PERRYVILLE — The grass is green, the sun is shining and the birds are chirping, a scene very unlike 150 years ago, when the temperatures were unusually hot and the ground was extremely dry.
Monday marked the exact date of the sesquicentennial of the Battle of Perryville. To remember the day, a rededication of monuments was held at Perryville Battlefield State Historic site.
Special guests included those with direct ancestors who served at the battle, specifically former CIA and FBI Director William Webster, great-grandson of George P. Webster, a Union officer who was mortally wounded at Perryville.
Another special guest speaker was Simon B. Buckner IV, great-grandson of Simon B. Buckner, a Confederate officer who returned home.
“The battle was so horrific in many ways, it brought out the best in people,” Webster said.
He emphasized that his great-grandfather had a large sense of duty, honor and country, and passed along that value to his family.
Webster was also able to attend the 100-year anniversary of the Battle of Perryville and says that honoring these men means a great deal.
“You’re keeping the memory of that battle alive and remembering the tremendous cost that was paid,” he said.
For Buckner, he feels a sense of responsibility to those who, unlike his great-great-grandfather, were unable to return home after the war. “It’s important to a lot of people to know we still care. There are a lot of others that didn’t make it back, it’s important for us to be here for them,” he said.
Beyond that, the men feel that we must remember not the differences that divided the country all those years ago, but instead remember the things that unify us.
“This is a celebration of what brings us together rather than a commemoration of what divided,” Buckner said.
Webster brought with him four generations of family members to experience the battlefield.
“This place matters…It’s very moving for my family,” said Steve Taylor, a cousin of Webster and another descendant of Colonel Webster.
According to Bernard O’Bryan, Kentucky Department Commander for Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, much like the corn that is so prevalent in our region, so grow heroes in Perryville.
He and many credit those who stepped out after the war to care for the wounded and bury the dead, and for those who have worked to preserve the battlefield in the years since, so visitors today would not be able to experience the area in such a way. “This place does matter and so much of it is about duty, honor, counrty. We need to keep it alive,” Webster said.